15 Oct2008

Chika-an, Cebu

by Marketman


I visit Cebu City 2-3 times a month. And I inevitably eat out with several people from the office or otherwise where the objective is primarily sustenance, not fancy flavors and settings. Whenever we need a filling meal at say an average of PHP250-300 per person, we used to head to Golden Cowrie… a Filipino restaurant in Lahug that serves up bottomless rice and an extensive list of moderately priced viands. They must feed 300-400 people a day at this place, and while it is nothing fancy, it is competent gruel for the prices charged. The restaurant used to be owned by family friends many eons ago, but today I think it is run by savvy restauranteurs who know how to push volume through the cavernous, somewhat ugly location. Our dining parties here have only once been downed with a bad kinilaw; otherwise, it is upscale carinderia fare at Cebuano price levels. However, the last time I was in Cebu, Mrs. MM suggested that I try the restaurant across the street called “Chika-an”…


A converted home turned into restaurant set in the middle of huge concrete parking lot, this place gets a 1.5 out of 10.0 for ambience, slightly less than the 2.0 out of 10.0 for Golden Cowrie, that at least tries to look a little native, and only put gravel in their parking lot rather than a sea of concrete. The interiors of Chikaan are best described as cold or characterless, but again, at PHP25-300 per person, you can’t exactly expect much interior decorative thought. But the evening we dined there, we parked our car and were immediately greeted by two cooks busily doing the final touches to a small lechon de leche over coals and making some bibingkas the old-fashioned way… I have to say, a couple of plus marks for this diplay and effort. Nothing like whetting one’s appetite with a bird’s eye view of the cooking. And for tourists, this is a plus as well…


Inside, we ordered several dishes from a fairly extensive menu and were thrilled with a nicely done unripe jackfruit salad, served cold with a refreshing dressing of freshly pressed coconut milk. Langka salad or dishes are often cooked until nearly mushy and this was a nice surprise, right at the start of the meal. Rice is also unlimited at this restuarant, but you have to ask for the refills sooner rather than later. We also ordered a pork belly salad that was essentially fatty griled liempo served with chopped tomatoes and onions and a vinegar based sauce. It was nice, and brought together many classic pinoy flavor points, but the langka salad was better that evening. We also had a huge crispy pata that rated well with the folks at our table, some grilled squid that was done just right – not overcooked…


We also ordered some pancit guisado that was tasty and filling, a well done sinigang na sugpo that while probably reliant on a tamarind mix rather than freshly squeezed tamarind pulp, still was a notch above most carinderia style eateries…


But the surprise hit of the meal was the monggo soup, served with some malunggay leaves and other veggies and a very good balance of thickness and flavor. I could have dined on the monggo soup and rice and maybe a little crispy pata and would have been quite happy. With drinks, the meal cost us roughly PHP250-300 ($5-6) per person and we were reasonably full. Chikaan is definitely an alternative to dining at Golden Cowrie in the future. Good value for money. My Cebuano ancestors would probably approve… (Chika-an, several branches in Cebu, apparently, but the one we tried was at Salinas drive, across from the Golden Cowrie restaurant).




  1. k. ramos says:

    Mongo soup is one of my faves. Ma makes it with okra, kalabasa fried fish (either bariles or malasigue or galunggong) and dahon ng sili or kamungay(malunggay). Perfect for cold weather. :D

    Oct 15, 2008 | 5:22 pm


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  3. APM says:

    I had to live in Cebu on and off for 14 months, whenever I would tire of hotel food and wanted a taste of home I would go to Chika-an and order lechon kawali and mongo soup. If i recall they had another restaurant in Ayala mall then with a different name.

    Oct 15, 2008 | 6:39 pm

  4. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    The original owner of Chikaan also sold the business to a Chef/Restauranteur. MM, check out Cafe Laguna and Lemon Grass too the next time around. They are also in the same price range as Golden Cowrie and Chikaan.

    Oct 15, 2008 | 8:20 pm

  5. PanchoA says:

    MM, Chika-an is now being run by the chef of Creative Cuisine, arguably the best catering service in Cebu, Derek Dytian, who, after graduating from La Salle with a business degree, went on to the Culinary Institute of America to pursue his passion. He also owns and runs Big Mao, another good restaurant serving Chinese food infused with other influences.

    Not bad for two brothers who started off by running canteen concessionnaires in the MEPZ area.

    I still go for his cheese topped baked scallops and his kinilaw. But my wife’s favorite is still the kinilaw of Jazz n’ Bluz in F. Cabahug. Pricey, but incredibly delicious!

    Oct 15, 2008 | 8:25 pm

  6. Marketman says:

    Artisan, Cafe Laguna and Lemon Grass my staple go to’s in Cebu. My parents used to frequent the original cafe laguna when it was around the corner from their house in Lahug many years ago… They are a tad pricier, but worth it.

    Oct 15, 2008 | 8:28 pm

  7. paoix says:

    Marketman, you are making me miss Cebu!! chikaan and golden cowrie are the places to go when i was growing up. as per Cafe Laguna, the last time i was in Cebu (May this year) the food didn’t taste even close to where it was years ago. not sure what happened.

    Oct 15, 2008 | 9:17 pm

  8. RoBStaR says:

    Those grilled squids looks tasty….

    Oct 15, 2008 | 9:30 pm

  9. s says:

    ohh, yeah… mongo is one of my fav in chika-an…

    MM, derick dytian was one of the guy i mentioned
    in my email last month. hehehe

    Oct 15, 2008 | 9:37 pm

  10. Vanessa says:

    The squid looks amazing!

    Oct 15, 2008 | 10:03 pm

  11. The Knittymommy says:

    Mmmmmm! Golden Cowrie…. A staple for when we used to go to Cebu every year. It’s been way too long. Do they still have Ding Qua Qua (for the rice topping bowls) around? We used to go to the one across the original Rustan’s department store (before they opened in the Ayala Center).

    Oct 15, 2008 | 10:12 pm

  12. toping says:

    It’s been ages since I last ate at Golden Cowrie and Chika-an. Good, affordable food, although Chika-an wins some points for being more accessible. There was one along Juan Osmeña, if I remember correctly—is it still there? In any case, it was just around the corner from Ding Qua Qua, another favorite of mine!

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:29 am

  13. estella says:

    that munggo in that picture looks so good!this is out of the topic,mm. i made tocino using your recipe. we had some this morning… tottemo oishi desu.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:30 am

  14. Regina Orio says:

    I agree with Artisan that Lemon Grass and Cafe Laguna are good picks, although I think Cafe Laguna has gone down in quality over the past year. I find Golden Cowrie a little rough. My alltime favorite has to be Lighthouse for great native dishes, atmosphere and reasonable prices.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:32 am

  15. ariel says:

    Thanks for the eye candy. Since I travel a lot nothing beats authentic filipino food, it just brings me back to my roots.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 1:37 am

  16. EbbaMyra says:

    Wala akong masabi dahil I have not been to Cebu (although I wanted to – umm there’s direct flight na coming from US). Anyway, in the pic, I saw mangga and bagoong – and again just like your older post – naglaway na naman ako. I love a great monggo with malunggay, hindi ko nga lang ma-perfect yung consistency pag-nagluto ako, minsan malabnaw, minsan sobrang thick. And yeah with sili leaves or ampalaya leaves.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 1:47 am

  17. navyGOLF says:

    It’s not Friday yet, but the description on how good the monggo meal sure is wanting me to request our manang to cook one asap! Monggo with grilled chorizo cebu, champion! Thanks for the inputs MM! I will try Chika-an on the next trip to Cebu, puhon, this Nov. Aside from Golden Cowrie, we also go to City Grill in Fuente for that su-to-kill set-up rather than going to Mactan.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 5:55 am

  18. ging berdon says:

    lemon grass is good .

    MM, check out my monggos recipe in my multiply site ;-) gives chikaan a run for their money hehehe

    Oct 16, 2008 | 8:08 am

  19. millet says:

    i miss cebu! we used to love the food at tung yan (near magellan hotel), ding how, viennese kaffeehaus across rustan’s and this nice pinoy restaurant near southern islands hospital that also had a branch in greenhills, i think. hmmm….memories from 20+ years ago. yes, chikaan, too, and white clouds (near cebu doctors hospital), with its different halo-halo concoctions. i can’t even remembr the names of the others. and good steak at eddie’s, i think.

    on recent trips, friends have brought me to kuya j’s, which has good baked scallops.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 8:37 am

  20. Regina Orio says:

    millet–you’re really bringing back some memories now. Ding How was so fun and White Clouds had some great halo-halo. There was also a good chinese restaurant in near the Belvic Theatre. My favorite old haunt was Beehive on Ramos which is still there. I spent many a night at Eddie’s Log Cabin too…

    Oct 16, 2008 | 8:56 am

  21. betty q. says:

    Hey Estella…if you want to try another tocino recipe…try my version…first buy fresh pork picnic shoulder (same cut I use for barbecued pork skewers)…i find it more tender than pork butt!…then for every 1 kg. or pork (cut into slices), make a marinade: 7 tbsp. sugar, 1 tbsp. coarse salt and 1 cup pineapple juice….you can add red food color if you so desire or annatto powder. Let this sit in the cooler overnight. I like to barbecue our tocino. My sister has a home based business just selling this tocino. Let me know if you like this…Oh, I forgot, if you are gong to grill this, make sure that you add a TINY BIT of oil to the meat after draining themarinade….just a tiny bit…you don’t want to activate the smoke alarm!

    Oct 16, 2008 | 9:39 am

  22. millet says:

    ReginaOrio, yes, Beehive! I’ve been wracking my brains trying to recall the name. And Belvic – there was also a nice Japanese restaurant on the top floor. Cebu in the 80s—-my fondest food memory there is going to Eddie’s Log Cabin for dinner, and then going to Marlboro Club for very good live music on Saturday nights. Belvic also had a nice club/disco at the basement, with a family of singers.

    MM, have you tried Cebu’s ngoyong? It’s a relatively new arrival to the Cebu food scene, and although I don’t care much for it (often too greasy), it has become a popular treat there. (But my heart belongs to budbud kabog.)

    Oct 16, 2008 | 10:34 am

  23. APM says:

    I also agree with Regina Orio that Lighthouse has great food. I used to order something which had crabmeat baked with young coconut it was superb!

    Oct 16, 2008 | 11:10 am

  24. terrey says:

    i didnt know there are many cebuanos here. of all the restos mentioned, it’s eddie’s log cabin that i havent tried…hmmm something to look forward to when i get home this dec.

    monggos, my all time fave soup.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 11:41 am

  25. MRU says:

    @APM, this is your old buddy who spent time with you on and off in Cebu. Yeah, Lighthouse has excellent food, but I miss the food served on that restaurant on stilts off the coast of Mactan that was accessible only through the use of JANG’s speedboat (remember?)

    Good to hear that Derek Dytian is also running Chika-an now (he’s a high school classmate of mine). We used to frequent the branch at the strip mall near Baseline. Good food.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:01 pm

  26. maggie says:

    i’d personally choose chika-an over golden courie, the food tastes better – comfort food talaga! i just don’t like the ambiance though. they should install better sound proofing materials (in the lahug site), everybody’s too loud, but the service is efficient. [++ on food, taste, service (?)] [– on ambiance (or lack of? mood music)]

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:25 pm

  27. RoBStaR says:

    Thanks for the recipe bettyq… will try.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 12:47 pm

  28. Jenny says:

    Hi MM! How did you get the purple color on the bibingkaan photo on top? :)

    Oct 16, 2008 | 1:24 pm

  29. ging says:

    Millet, NgoHiong has been a cebu staple for eons!

    Mang Domeng’s in Fairlane Village is an institution. I remember going there as a high school student way back in the 80’s. The secret to good NgoHiong is not in the filling but in the sauce. And Mang Domeng’s has the best :-)

    Now there are Ngohiong-ans galore all over the city. Can even get it from the pungko-pungko vendors where it is mostly wrapper.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 2:35 pm

  30. Blaise says:

    My last name is Fortuna, and I believe that they are from Cebu, but I’ve never been there..

    I’ve really got to go to this place soon..

    Oct 16, 2008 | 4:03 pm

  31. kitkathie says:

    We’ll be going to Cebu this Christmas! yehey, another food finds to visit!!!Thank you, MM

    Oct 16, 2008 | 6:51 pm

  32. Regina Orio says:

    terrey–I regret to say though that Eddie’s Log Cabin in it’s day was a happening steak house run by an american and his cebuana wife–great food, atmosphere and music. Now it’s just a so-so local hangout and not worth the trip

    Oct 16, 2008 | 6:53 pm

  33. chinky says:

    My last 2 trips to Cebu had us dining in Neo-Neo’s branch across the Carmelite Church in Mabolo. Fresh seafood cooked as you order and very cheap! Don’t count on ambience but the food was good and value for money.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 8:44 pm

  34. APM says:

    Hi MRU,

    The place on stilts was called Candy & Arnold’s. If I recall its on top of a marine reservoir. If you recall we had some Conch salad. As far as I know its the only place in the Philippines serving Conch (which is a mainstay in Bahamian cuisine). Great to hear from you Bai.

    Oct 16, 2008 | 8:59 pm

  35. estella says:

    thanks for the recipe, bettyq. i haven’t had tocino with pineapple juice. i will try it and will let you know about the outcome.

    Oct 17, 2008 | 12:11 am

  36. betty q. says:

    Hey Robbie and Estella: …don’t use a METAL BOWL…use plastic, glass bowl. Mix the sugar and the salt. Then like when you’re dry curing fish (salmon) sprinkle a bit of curing mix on the bottom of the container, meat, more dry cure on the meat ….layer, layer! Then top with pineapple juice. Let it sit overnight. I cut the meat about 1/4 inch slices. …any thicker and will take forever to grill on the barbecue and because of the sugar, it will burn. So as soon as I get he grill marks, I take it off the heat and finish it in the oven…you know what taste it reminds me of?…HAMONADO? I don’t know what term else to use…so sorry!

    Oct 17, 2008 | 3:02 am

  37. linda says:

    bettyq,never had tocino your way,but I’ll definitely try this,sounds interesting!Thank you!

    Oct 17, 2008 | 10:03 am

  38. sonny sj says:

    Hi betty q! will try making your tocino this weekend, thanks for the recipe.

    Oct 17, 2008 | 10:44 am

  39. marissewalangkaparis says:

    Hi bettyq! Will try your tocino. I tried with pineapple juice etc…but yours really sounds good. I will try it and let you know. I have been on the lookout for a good tocino recipe for my son.I’ve never tried grilling it.Interesting.
    I loved going to Eddie’s Log Cabin and Dinghow. I feel sad to hear that Eddie’s isn’t what it used to be.That’s what a cousin of my husband who lives in Cebu said too. Hope I get a chance to go to Cebu one of these days. Want to see Eddie’s again and see for myself.
    I really loved Dinghow too.

    Oct 18, 2008 | 10:30 pm

  40. gaze says:

    hello,which is more delicious and little bit cheaper,,leomon grass or chikaan?

    Nov 4, 2008 | 3:07 pm

  41. Fards says:

    It is so great reading this blog. All about Cebuano eateries and food. Must check out these places when I go back to Cebu.
    Must try bettq’s tocino recipe.

    Nov 12, 2008 | 3:50 am

  42. nina says:

    I love monggo soup with lots of pork/chicharon :) But then again there’s no pork here so monggo with pork is a luxury to us ;)

    Nov 12, 2008 | 2:57 pm

  43. Pedro says:

    i like to eat at the Carbon Market, everything is cheap.

    Dec 4, 2008 | 5:06 am

  44. jo says:

    does anyone know how to make cebu longganisa/chorizo de cebu

    Dec 13, 2009 | 4:04 pm


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